but with Patience
By Dr Shireen M. Mazari
address to the American Jewish Congress was a masterly
stroke of proactivism and the tremendous reception
he received clearly showed the short-term gains
as well as long-term benefits also by way of a greater
understanding at least, if not outright support
for, Pakistan within the US Congress and beyond.
In addition, he put forth the Pakistani position
on terrorism and recognition of Israel to an audience
that needed to hear it. Especially in the context
of anti-Semitism, of which Muslims are continuously
being accused, the Musharraf address exposed this
lie most effectively in the content of his address.
All in all, the address was one of those events
that in themselves change the dynamics of perceptions
and policy -- similar to the masterful manner in
which Z. A. Bhutto recognized Bangladesh through
the OIC Summit in Lahore.
Ironically, both these occasions left India out
in the cold on the diplomatic front. This time round,
just as Pakistan is shoring up its bruised and battered
image and credibility abroad, India is finding it
rough sailing in the US Congress on its nuclear
deal with the US. Manmohan Singh’s tired rhetoric
accusing Pakistan of continuing to allow infiltration
across the LoC found few takers in the US this time
round, and India may find it has to pay a high political
price for its nuclear deal with the US -- especially
in its relations with countries like Iran.
However, having made it clear to the Israelis and
the American Jewish Congress that for Pakistan full
diplomatic relations with Israel will only come
with progress in the peace process and in the establishment
of a viable Palestinian state, the time has come
to now show patience. Pakistan has taken the proactive
steps to make a qualitative shift on its traditional
policy on Israel. But we must not give in to our
proclivity towards impatience in seeing results.
We need to wait and watch where the Palestinian-Israeli
peace process is headed beyond Gaza and we need
to take serious note of Israeli efforts to make
the occupation of Jerusalem permanent. Pakistan’s
moves on Israel and reaching out to the American
Jewish Congress have allowed other Muslim states
to move in a similar direction.
The Indonesian foreign minister met with his Israeli
counterpart in New York and there was a similar
meeting between the Qataris and Israelis also. Clearly,
Pakistan has shown itself to be a leader within
the Muslim World with others gaining strength from
its proactive moves. But we must not undermine the
Palestinian struggle by giving Israel the final
approval of formal recognition until we see the
establishment of a viable Palestinian state. We
also need to see how Israel reacts to Hamas’s
efforts to move into the political sphere in Gaza
-- as the IRA has done in Northern Ireland. This
will show whether or not Israel is prepared to accept
true Palestinian sovereignty.
We in Pakistan tend to show impatience in playing
for the long term. That is why we need to constantly
be aware of this proclivity to go for end solutions
in haste. Look at our peace process with India.
The Musharraf-Singh Summit showed Indian obduracy
once again on Kashmir, but we continue to offer
them all manner of trade and other concessions.
So far, not one conflictual issue has been resolved
through the bilateral dialogue -- not even the waters
issue or the Sir Creek dispute. So why must we rush
into all manner of concessions like opening up of
the land trade route? There are no time constraints
on us so we need to take a breather and see where
exactly we are headed on the issues of bilateral
conflict. At the moment it seems as if we are sliding
down at breakneck speed on the trade and economic
issues of the peace process with no time to examine
what is happening on the political issues.
We should also note Manmohan Singh’s constant
refrain of there being no question of the redrawing
of borders and perhaps educate him on the absurdity
of his claims on three main counts:
• One, the LoC is not a border but a ceasefire
line so his refrain has no locus standi in the context
of the Kashmir dispute.
• Two, India is one of two countries -- Israel
being the second -- who have, since their creation,
altered their borders time and again through the
use of military force. Beginning with Hyderabad
and Junagadh and moving on to the occupation of
Kashmir to the takeover of Goa to the swallowing
up of Sikkim, India has constantly been redrawing
its borders! In addition, it played a major role
in redrawing Pakistan’s borders in 1971 although
the validity of the two-nation theory prevented
it from absorbing East Bengal into the Indian Union!
So how can Manmohan Singh talk of no “redrawing”
• Three, India is involved in border talks
with China and eventually there will be a redrawing
of borders in that case also. So even in the present
timeframe, India is having to consider redrawing
of borders. Unfortunately, there continues to be
an arrogance in the Indian approach towards Pakistan
and this has also been reflected in the recent statement
by India’s Foreign Minister, Natwar Singh,
who has declared that he knows Pakistan will not
hang Sarabjeet, the RAW terrorist. Now why should
Pakistan deal differently with this terrorist --
and we need to remember that he is not simply a
spy to be exchanged but a man responsible for terrorism,
which led to the death of many innocent Pakistanis.
So why should his life be spared when other terrorists
have the death penalty carried out against them?
Because he is Indian?
If we find the death penalty abhorrent, we need
to abolish it per se, but not simply in the case
of one terrorist simply because we are involved
in a peace process with India. After all, India
has also condemned terrorism, so why should it seek
salvation for its national who has been found guilty
of terrorism? Why do we come under such pressure?
We have shown ourselves to be impatient for results.
We want shortcuts when we should be playing for
the long haul. Here we can learn valuable lessons
from our Chinese friends. Why do some of us have
apprehensions on Israel and Kashmir? Because we
have seen too many impatient decisions for which
we will suffer long-term consequences -- simply
because we could not sit it out and take the pressure.
But when we have been able to do so, we have benefited
-- as reflected in our acquisition of nuclear capability
against all odds and monumental pressure.
President Musharraf has already made history by
his bold proactivism in foreign policy. Now there
is virtue in not being in a hurry but in taking
time to study developments and most critically building
a national consensus for future strategic decisions.
At the end of the day no leader can be stronger
than the nation he leads.
(The writer is director general of the Institute
of Strategic Studies, Islamabad. Courtesy The News)